This is far and beyond one of my favorite side dishes ever. Mainly used as an accompaniment to pork dishes this very sweet and tart at the same time dish has always been a favorite even with folks that don’t like cabbage. Origins of this recipe are a mystery but it probably came from my Austrian great grandmother.
- One 2 to 2½ pound head of red cabbage
- ⅔ cup of red wine vinegar (see notes below)
- 2 Tablespoons of sugar (see notes below)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons lard or bacon fat (see notes below)
- 2 medium cooking apples peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
- ½ cup of finely chopped onion
- 1 whole onion peeled and pierced with 2 whole cloves
- 1 small bay leaf
- 3 Tablespoons dry red wine
- 3 cups of boiling water
- 3 Tablespoons of red currant jelly (optional, see notes below)
- Wash the head of cabbage thoroughly.
- Pull off the tough outer leaves, core, cut into quarters and shred. (see notes)
- Put the cabbage in a large work bowl and toss with the vinegar, sugar and salt (see notes)
- In a heavy 4 to 5 quart casserole (see notes) melt the fat over moderate heat.
- Add the apples and onions and saute for five minutes or until the apples are lightly browned
- Add the cabbage, whole onion and bay leaf.
- Stir throughly
- Add boiling water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and turn the heat down to a simmer covered for 1½ hours to 2 hours.
- Check from time to time to ensure cabbage is not drying out. Add more boiling water as needed. Cabbage should not be swimming in water but just moist,
- At the end of cooking remove the whole onion and bay leaf, stir in the wine and jelly
- Serve on a heated platter
I usually substitute apple cider vinegar for the red wine vinegar. I found it to produce a flavor that was much better.
Given my general disdain for white sugar I usually use brown sugar. The unintended consequence is this adds more depth to the flavor.
When I cook bacon at home I often (not always) save the rendered fat after straining it through cheese cloth in a mason jar and keep in the the refrigerator for this and other recipes. Alternatively I might cut up three or four slices of bacon into small dice and render them in the pot before starting the rest of the recipe. Remove the bacon bits and save them for something else.
Black currant jelly and apple jelly work well in this recipe in place of the red currant jelly which is getting much harder to find.
Rather than shred the cabbage I just use my knife cutting slivers out of the quarters. Takes more time and knife skills but I like the result better.
Instead of tossing the cabbage in the vinegar, sugar and salt I just incorporate them in the pot together. Same result, saves dishes.
Since I don't own a casserole that large I was for a while using my cast iron dutch oven. More recently I have been using a stainless steel pot. Must have a heavy bottom at any rate